Category Archives: lone parent

Direct Sales

Happy New Year!!  New Year is traditionally a time when we think about making a new start.  Many Mums start doing some Direct Sales as a way of earning a bit of extra money in a sociable role that they really love.  Direct Sales means getting a group of people together and showing and selling them your products.  It’s a way for a group of friends to have a nice evening in and do a bit of shopping from the comfort of their own home, but with the opportunity to try before they buy.  It’s perfect for Mums as it’s so flexible, you set your own hours and targets.  It’s also great for Mums as becoming a Mum has likely introduced them to a whole new social circle who are likely to be in their target market.

There are so many companies now offering these positions (Pampered Chef, Neal’s Yard Organics, Craft Superstore, Avon, Kleeneze, Usborne Books, Body Shop to name a few), you are bound to find one that sells products that you are passionate about and can enjoy selling.  You can choose to sell at evening parties at a host’s home, daytime groups (playgroups etc), a party in your own home, at events like school fetes, or door-to-door.  With most of these companies you now also get a personal website so you can do some online sales as well, and customers can buy your products again and again without coming to more parties.

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Anita started working as an Usborne organiser in Exeter in 2012. She is a mum of two and already worked part time, but needed to find a way to boost her income. Direct Sales was a good option for her, as it had such flexible hours to fit around her part time work and children. You can even take your kids along with you when you are hosting book parties so this saves on childcare.

“I love their children’s books and also meeting other people so the work is enjoyable. It doesn’t always feel like work because parties can take the form of coffee mornings, playdates or even an evening with wine and nibbles! I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for people trying to get back into employment, especially parents with young children.”

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Caroline is Mum to Jack, 4, and works part time in Customer Services. She became a Pampered Chef consultant in October 2011. Pampered Chef sell high quality kitchenware, and during their parties consultants use the products to cook some goodies for all the guests!

“I was recruited at a Pampered Chef party hosted by a friend. It’s not something I would ever have dreamed of doing but I love it. I love the flexibility, meeting new people, my new cooking skills and newly acquired confidence.”

As well as the social aspect of hosting parties, most of these companies bring their consultants together on a monthly basis, so there are additional networking opportunities. Caroline has met many other Mums at these meetings who have also used Direct Sales as a stepping stone into work after having children:

“Having children seems to lower women’s confidence and it can take a while to build this back up. I can honestly say that the women I meet now are so confident and love what they do.”

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Nicole has two young daughters and works as a Supply Teacher.  She attended a Neal’s Yard Organics Party at a friend’s house and was so impressed with the products that she decided to become a consultant herself.

“I’d thought about different ways of supplementing my income and maybe trying out running my own business, and after investigating yoga for children franchises I decided that the cost of these was completely out of my league and the risk was too great. A friend mentioned that Neal’s Yard did something and it wasn’t expensive so I had a look. There was a special offer on for that month and signing up was half price … only £50, so a bit of a no-brainer! I knew that the company upheld what I believed in and were ethically sound. So I had nothing to lose! And I hadn’t even been to a party! It has been a great way of adding to my income … you get out what you put in. And I have a house full of products for myself and family! I consider myself to be the local ‘tester’ so when people ask me about certain products I can speak with confidence! The training is great; loads of opportunities for face to face and phone training, as well as two conferences per year and endless incentives. It can be hard work but I know that I can boost my income at certain times of year if I need to save for something.”

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Direct Sales could give you the skills and experience you need to improve your employment potential too.

Naomi trained as a Beauty Therapist at college.  She became pregnant when she was 18 so did not have the chance to gain much work experience.  After having her son, she started doing Direct Sales for The Body Shop At Home.  Through this experience she gained lots of new skills and confidence, and when a job opportunity came up with Benefit – one of her favourite cosmetics brands, she leapt at the chance.

“I love my job.  I’d never have had the confidence or experience needed to do it if I hadn’t worked for The Body Shop At Home first.”

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Have you considered Direct Sales? Have you been to any parties like those described above? If you’d like to discuss some of the options for getting started, give us a call on 0800 043 2440.

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Filed under childcare, food, hair and beauty, Inspirational Women, lone parent, retail, self employment, work-life balance

One to watch

I am getting married this coming weekend and, just like every other bride ever, I want my wedding to be the biggest and best, personal and unique to us.  I have got lots of little plans for making this happen, but some of the big things that will make our wedding a true reflection of us, will come from Carmen at The Very Vintage Hire Company.  I don’t want to give too much away before the big day, but we will be hiring a whole host of weird and wonderful bits and bobs from the lovely Carmen, who at just 25 has built this business up herself in a year, and is already seeing it go from strength to strength.  She recently opened a beautiful shop on Exeter Quay – The Attic, so that customers can see the hire products, buy some antiques and decorations.  They even do makeover experiences there!  We see big things in the future of this young entrepreneur!  Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest to keep up with all her future developments.

The best thing about running my own business is the raw belief that one day I will make it big and all the hard work with pay off.  It may be hard but its the most exciting, satisfying thing I have ever done. I have met some amazing people, been involved in some great ideas and learnt so much already, and it’s only just the beginning.

You can read our full interview with Carmen here.

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Direct Sales: Pampered Chef

Direct Sales is an excellent way to get into self employment with the backing of a larger brand behind you.  Many Mums choose to do Direct Sales either as their sole work, or alongside part or full time employment, as it offers such flexibility.  Pampered Chef is an example of a Direct Sales company.  Consultants come to your home (or workplace, school, youth club, day centre, etc) and do a cooking show where they showcase their products whilst creating lovely nibbles for your guests.

Caroline Cannon is Mum to Jack, 3, and became a Pampered Chef consultant in October 2011.  She also works part time in Customer Services.

Pampered chef is an American company that was founded in 1980. It offers high quality kitchenware and tools and is sold through the party plan (like Tupperware, Ann Summers).  It offers hosts amazing incentives for having a party; consultants (like myself) are incentivised and rewarded for selling the goods and people that buy the products are investing in amazing superior kitchenware that will not leave anyone disappointed.

I was recruited at a Pampered Chef party hosted by a friend. It’s not something I would ever have dreamed of doing but I love it. I love the flexibility, meeting new people, my new cooking skills and newly acquired confidence.

When my director (who was the consultant at the party I attended) talked about extra money and ‘how £50 was a lot of money you could earn instead of watching the TV instead of an evening’ I realised this was a real opportunity I should grab.

It instantly appealed to me and I haven’t looked back since. It’s an excellent way of meeting new people and will give you a confidence you probably never knew you had!

There are monthly meetings and these introduce to you all the other consultants in the area and there is always a cooking show. It’s a great way to see how others might do a cooking show and everyone is always very friendly.  My experience in going to these meetings is finding out about everyone else and their story about getting into Pampered chef. There are many who used it as a stepping stone to get back into work after having children. And this is massively successful. Having children seems to lower women’s confidence and it can take a while to build this back up. I can honestly say that the women I meet now are so confident and love what they do.

How much you want to work is entirely up to you. You can choose to pursue it as career, and indeed a very successful one at that.  Or you could do what I do and hold one or two parties a month.

I am more than happy to talk to anyone about Pampered Chef, and if you want to discuss anything please don’t hesitate to call me on 07810 501385 or you can email at carolinecannon.pamperedchef@yahoo.co.uk

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Filed under childcare, creative, employment, food, Inspirational Women, lone parent, online business, planning, retail, retraining, self employment, work-life balance

Return to Learn

My very own (Flexi)Mum went to university when I was 8 and trained as a teacher.  At the time she was a Mealtime Assistant at my primary school – she is now the Assistant Headteacher of the same school (which incidently is the school I’m hoping my little man will be starting this September).

Some years ago, at the grand old age of 33, I decided it was time I got a proper job!  I had worked in pubs and shops and offices but felt unfulfilled; I could be heard to say that I didn’t want to have “Here Lies Unfulfilled Potential” written on my tombstone.  I was really the only person that could ensure that that didn’t happen.

I was the single Mum of two lovely children, both of whom were now at school.  This was my time!

I embarked on a Return to Learn course, which led onto an Access course and then a teaching degree at Exeter University – in total a five year project!  Five years in which I sometimes felt out of my depth, and wondered who I was kidding to think I was capable of a degree; however, it was also five years in which I felt enlivened, excited and energised – I realised I did have a brain and that I loved delving into literature and its hidden meanings, and I also learned that I could “feel the fear but do it anyway” to paraphrase a well known saying!

I am now in my 13th year of teaching – having gone from Mealtime Assistant to Assistant Head Teacher – and I can honestly say I never feel unfulfilled!

I believe that there are often unintended consequences of our actions – I think my children saw a good role model – and so did some of my friends – 3 of them have gone onto study at university – one to PHd level, after watching me and seeing anything is possible if you put your mind to it!

If you are remotely tempted to make a change, take a leap of faith, give it a go – what have you got to lose? …..Oh, and Good Luck!

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The Attic

Back in November, on the Opportunity Plus South West blog, we introduced you to Carmen Croxall, letting you know that she was an young entrepreneur to look out for.  Carmen started a small business making cake stands from vintage crockery, which, during 2012, developed into a vintage hire company, hiring out props to weddings and other events.

Photography by Steve Nuth Photography

Photography by Steve Nuth Photography

Last night, we were lucky enough to be invited to the launch party for Carmen’s new shop, The Attic, based on the very desirable Exeter Quay.  The Attic gives Carmen an opportunity to showcase some of the beautiful and unique products she has available for hire, as well as selling some antiques.  It will also be home to Vevi Graphic Design.

Photography by Steve Nuth Photography

Photography by Steve Nuth Photography

She has also teamed up with Beautiful You Makeover Experiences, offering a makeover experience where a group of friends can come and have a makeover, followed by a photoshoot using all of the lovely props available from The Very Vintage Hire Company.

Beautiful You Makeovers-The Attic

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Filed under creative, hair and beauty, Inspirational Women, lone parent, online business, retail

Finding My Feet

A really inspirational and positive post from a single Mum who has truly found her feet.  Vicky is 31 and lives in Salisbury with her nine month old daughter.  She is a single mother dealing with ongoing mental health issues, money issues, and “a family history that would make Jeremy Kyle’s brain hurt”.  This is her story in her own words:

My little girl, S, was born five weeks premature: three days before my appointment with the midwife to discuss my birth plan, and a week before I was due to start birthing classes.  I had no clue what was going on, what my options were, what I should and shouldn’t do.  Her father was no help at all, and has since told people I deliberately went into premature labour in order to recover more quickly from a chest infection.

That feeling of “ohmygodI’mamotherwhatthechuffinghelldoIdonow” got about a hundred times worse when they finally let us out of the hospital, and it lasted for a fairly long time.  The general attitude of S’s father was “it’s just a baby, anyone can do this, stop whining.”  Which was not a fantastic help to me when I was panicking about feeding times, or whether to take her out in the rain, or whether she was warm enough, or too warm, or sleeping too much, or jaundiced, or this, or that, or the other and “ohmygodI’mresponsibleforthischild”.

S’s father is a prolific… I don’t know what the pleasant word is, but he has a lot of children.  I took my cue from him: the baby needs another blanket.  You need to put this much cream on the baby’s nappy rash.  If you pick the baby up every time it cries you are making a rod for your own back.  Since he obviously knew better than I, I did as I was told.

Luckily for both S and I, her father left when she was three weeks old.  Shortly afterwards, the Health Visitor was here while I changed a nappy and asked why I was using so much cream.  This was how I had been shown to do it.  The Health Visitor sighed, showed me how it’s meant to be done, and left saying “please stop listening to that man.”

After that, I decided I could find out more from a book than from listening to someone whose child-rearing choices are far from ideal.  I started reading books and blogs and articles and asking friends and forums and making my own mind up.  It’s been a long journey, and since S is only 9 months old it’s really only just begun, but I am so much more confident these days.

Now I know that if S is cold she will let me know.  I trust that I will be able to tell what she needs.  She doesn’t get nappy rash any more, so we don’t use the cream her father told me needed to be used in huge amounts each nappy change.  I have read the articles and studies about leaving children to cry, and will always pick S up whenever she is unhappy.  I am so much more confident in my actions these days.  My feet are quite firmly found, and it turns out I fall a bit on the hairy-legs-and-sandals side of hippiedom when it comes to parenting.  Turns out I’m a pretty good mother on my own, without anyone telling me what to do.  Who knew?

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L.A Barbers

This time last year, Liza Kane teamed up with a friend, Amanda, and realised her dream to open her own barbershop in Dawlish, Devon.  One year on, L.A Barbers is still going strong and they are celebrating their first year in the shop.  Congratulations!

Liza was a young single mother who decided that she’d had enough of boring office jobs that she didn’t care about, so she took the plunge and retrained as a hairdresser.

I decided to get qualified in something I was passionate about, would fit around my daughter’s schooling, and would ultimately pay the bills!

She took an evening hairdressing class and started working as a mobile hairdresser in the local area.  This helped her to build up a strong client base, as well as providing her with experience and opportunities for market research.  She discovered that there was a shortage of specialist men’s and children’s hairdressers in the area, so went back to college to gain further qualifications in children’s hair cutting and barbering.  Once she had the necessary skills, she decided it was time to open her own premises.

In January 2012, I teamed up with Amanda, who also has young children, and we opened L.A Barbers in Dawlish, launching a traditional barbers with a modern twist. We are a team of female barbers specialising in male and kids cuts.  We take the drama out of first hair cuts and trims by using our racing car hair cutting chair, keeping the little ones happy!

Liza continues to work on a mobile basis as well as in the shop.

For more information, check out the L.A Barbers’ and Liza Kane Hairdressing pages on Facebook.

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Filed under childcare, children, hair and beauty, Inspirational Women, lone parent, retraining, school, self employment, work-life balance